Complete your undergraduate degree with modest or no loan debt for tuition.
You’re confident that college is within your reach, and you’ve worked hard to prepare academically. You know that earning a college degree is an important factor in realizing your potential and improving your career opportunities. Still, you’re not sure about the steps to get there or how to pay for your education.
We created the Urban Scholars Initiative (USI) program to help
talented and dedicated students like you fulfill their dream of
completing a college degree.
You'll complete your undergraduate degree with modest or no loan debt
for tuition; however, USI is more than just a scholarship. Whatever you
need, whether it’s learning to manage your time, navigating
college life, or receiving tutoring help, the Urban Scholar's Initiative program helps you
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1. A high school graduate must have participated in and be recommended by an
approved collaborating organization (see list below).
2. Students who wish to apply for any USI donor scholarship must demonstrate financial need by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Learn how to submit the FAFSA from our Financial Aid Office. Students are strongly encouraged to apply by the preferred FASFA deadline of February 15th. Students must participate in the interview process offered in March to be eligible for additional USI donor-sponsored scholarships.*Students with DACA/undocumented status may still participate without submitting a FAFSA
3. Students wishing to participate in the
Urban Scholars Initiative must meet all of our criteria for undergraduate admission, including an appropriate level of
high school academic achievement and an acceptable SAT or ACT score. We strongly encourage you to apply to Lesley by the Early Action deadline – usually December 1 – for the next academic year. We require all applicants to complete the admissions application and process no later than February 15 for maximum considerations related to the Urban Scholars Initiative. Review our undergraduate application deadlines and learn how to apply to Lesley. *Transfer students are eligible for admission to the Urban Scholars Initiative. Transfer students may enroll via the traditional undergraduate application deadlines. However, in order to secure a seat in the class and qualify for additional donor-sponsored scholarships, we strongly encourage transfer students to enroll under Fall admissions and complete the admissions and FAFSA applications by the USI required deadlines listed below.
4. To qualify for an additional annual USI donor-sponsored scholarship, eligible USI students will be invited to participate in an on-campus interview. Students are required to interview in person for maximum consideration. Students can expect to interview with staff members of the Urban Scholars Initiative and Admissions team. Interviews typically take place in March.
5. Space is limited! In order to secure your seat in the incoming class within the Urban Scholars Initiative, admitted students are required to submit an enrollment deposit by no later than the universal reply date of May 1st.
6. Once enrolled, all new students are required to participate in the USI Summer Transition Week, typically held during the second week of August (Sunday to Friday). During the week, you'll be able to get acclimated to the campus, bond with new friends, and learn what it takes to be successful in your college program and in life. Mark your calendar and do not miss out. (No exceptions. All students must participate.)
7. All USI students must remain in good academic standing and make satisfactory progress toward degree completion to remain eligible for the USI scholarship and any other related scholarships. A minimum 2.5GPA is required to maintain access to USI support services and program benefits.
USI DeadlinesFebruary 15: Completed admission application requiredFebruary 15: Completed FAFSA strongly encouragedMarch: Required on-campus interview for additional Donor Sponsored scholarshipsMay 1: Enrollment deposit required to secure your seat in the USI class. Space is limited!
Several community-based organizations that provide youth with academic support, mentorship, scholarships, and other services have become our partners in the Urban Scholars Initiative. These participating organizations share our goal in helping under-resourced students gain access to, and succeed in, college.
Maritsa BarrosDirector, Urban Scholars Initiative (USI) firstname.lastname@example.org Housed within the Global Ed Center, USI helps first-generation students from diverse backgrounds fulfill their dream of completing a college degree. USI program director Maritsa Barros obtained a BA from UMASS Dartmouth in Psychology with a minor in African and African American History, and an MS in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University, where she also worked in the Admissions Office, kicking off eight years of experience in college admission and recruitment in diversity. Maritsa is a long-standing member of National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) and New England Association for College Admissions Counseling (NEACAC).
Viviana SuavitaUndergraduate Admissions Counselor, Urban Scholars Initiative Specialistvsuavita@lesley.eduViviana was born to Colombian parents in Boston. She lived in East Boston as a child before moving to Ayer, Massachusetts where she graduated from Ayer High School and went on to attend Marist College where she graduated in 2008 with a BA in Communications. Her father completed college while Viviana was in high school and this helped her see the sacrifices and benefits that come with obtaining a college degree. This is her fourth fall recruiting for the Undergraduate Admissions office where she has traveled everywhere from New York to Florida. Viviana now recruits on the North Shore and in Metro Boston. She works one-on-one with students who qualify for the Urban Scholars Initiative.
Jennifer CastroAssistant Director, Urban Scholars Initiativejcastro6@lesley.eduJennifer Castro earned a BS in Human Development and Family Studies and a MS in College Student Personnel from the University of Rhode Island (URI). Jennifer uses her passion for social justice and inclusion to help students from diverse backgrounds obtain a college degree. While completing her MS, she worked as an academic adviser for the College of Nursing and assisted in the launching of the RN to BSN online program at the University of Rhode Island. Jennifer has also focused her practice to serve first generation students and students of color through work with the Preparatory Enrollment Program at Rhode Island College and the Brown Center for Students of Color at Brown University.
"The program is empowering. It’s about managing yourself as an adult, but with someone always there to assist and guide you."
*Additional Scholarships: Many of the students who participate in this program and receive a USI scholarship will still face significant financial challenges. For those who demonstrate financial need greater than 50% of tuition, the university will actively engage in fundraising to establish an endowment that will provide donor-supported scholarships to a select number of students. These special scholarships will be awarded on a competitive basis and will be available for the four years the students are eligible for the USI scholarship. It is our intention to increase the number of awards and the amount of the awards as more donor funding becomes available. Priority is given to students who complete the application by the required admission deadlines.
Majors and Minors:
Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Psychology and Applied Therapies
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees:
One-Year Cost: Full-Time
One-Year Cost: Part-Time
Animation and Motion Media
Art History and Critical Studies
All Degrees and Programs
Schedule a Visit
Tuition and Fees
Bachelor's Degree Completion
Urban Scholars Initiative
Maritsa BarrosDirector of Urban Scholars Initiative, Office of the Provost617.349.8800
Jennifer CastroAssistant Director of Urban Scholars Initiative, Office of the Provost617.349.8608
Support the Urban Scholars Initiative
Natalia Rosa, the Urban Scholars Initiative's first graduate, overcame barriers with hard work and a supportive community of friends. Learn more.
Internships provide you with off-campus experience in your field of interest, and the chance to put the skills and theories you've learned in the classroom into practice. Learn more.